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Cleburne Wines Were Internationally Known

Miners were not the only fortune seekers to Cleburne County!

An early photo of the Fruithurst Winery showing the muscadine and grape fields with the resort hotel in the background.
The Fruithurst Winery

In the late 1800s, settlers were attracted to the north Cleburne County community of Zidonia where they set about building a town and renamed it Fruithurst.

The town became internationally known for its wines and as having one of the finest hotels in the South.

Notable Fruithurst leaders included Ernest Rudolph Carlson and George Washington Morris. Born in Sweden, Carlson was president and manager of the Fruithurst Winery, a councilman and later the mayor of Fruithurst.

George Morris came from Michigan by way of Minnesota where he had run a lumber business before being named director of the Fruithurst Vineyard and Product Company.

He also had interest in the Reliance Gold Mining Company of Washington, D.C. which operated in Cleburne County along the Tallapoosa River. Both Carlson and Morris served as councilmen, as Fruithurst's mayor and as members of the Cleburne County Democratic Executive Committee.

Gradually, the market for wines and grapes soured and a harsh winter and plant diseases killed the vines. There were also rumors of mismanagement and in the end, in April 1898, the C.S. Curtis Company of New York paid $15,455 for the town and all of the real estate (including the famous hotel) belonging to the Alabama Fruit Growing and Winery Association.

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